Types of Cybercrime
Most cybercrimes involve stealing or extorting money from unsuspecting users of the internet. Common scams include:
- Phishing scams – emails claiming to be from banks or revenue looking for your personal information or security log-in information.
- Online Sales Fraud – payment is made online for an item that doesn’t exist or the item never arrives.
- Romance scams – a fake relationship is established online and the person eventually asks you for money, gifts, or other financial assistance.
- Sextortion – intimate photos are shared with someone online and the person then threatens to share the photos with your friends, family, or workplace if their demands aren’t met (usually money but can sometimes be additional intimate images).
- Lottery scams – claim that you have won a large sum of money, but a fee must be paid to release it.
- Ransomware – a computer is infected with malicious software and its files are locked until a sum of money is paid.
This is not an exhaustive list and there are always new scams emerging.
If you fall victim to cybercrime, you may feel…
- Angry at what has happened
- Helpless as if there is nothing you can do
- Guilty that you should have prevented it
- Panicked as you try to limit or undo the damage
- Ashamed or embarrassed for falling for the scam
- Afraid it could happen again
- Less confident using the computer and internet
- Worried by the financial burden or loss
- Like nothing can or will be done if you report it
If you have been the victim of a romance scam you may also feel heartbroken over the loss of the relationship you had with the scammer, in addition to the feelings listed above. You may find yourself longing for the person to contact you again or in disbelief about what has happened. These feelings can be confusing and distressing, but they are perfectly normal and understandable given the circumstance.
The important thing to remember is that it is not your fault. Cybercriminals are highly organised and professional criminals who deceive, manipulate, and exploit vulnerabilities. Their tactics are very persuasive which is why so many people, of all different ages and backgrounds, fall victim to their scams.
Consider taking some of the following steps if you find yourself a victim of cybercrime:
- Report what has happened to the Gardaí
- When you make a statement to the Gardaí, request a copy of it to have on hand to provide to your financial institution, if needed. You have a right to receive a copy of any statement that you make to the Gardaí.
- Contact your bank and/or credit card provider to report fraudulent activity. Most banks have dedicated fraud teams to assist in these situations.
- If you are a victim of sextortion or a ransomware attack, do not send money. If you have already, don’t send more. This also applies to sending intimate photos.
- Keep a written or online record of every incident and/or exchange between you and the fraudster.
- Do not delete any incriminating emails, texts, or messages. If possible, take screen shots of the messages as these can be used as evidence and may be useful if an investigation takes place.
- Reach out. It can be helpful to receive support from family, friends or support services. You can contact the Crime Victims Helpline Freephone at 116006.
It is natural to feel wary of going back online. There are a few steps you can take to stay safer and help avoid being revictimized:
- Change all of your passwords if you think that they may have been compromised.
- Set all of your social media and other online accounts to private.
- Contact the email or social media company if you have lost access to your accounts as a result of an online crime. They may be able to help your regain access.
- Remain vigilant.
- Always assess any emails or messages that you hadn’t expected to receive or requests from social media sites.
- If you receive any suspicious texts or emails requesting your password or login information, particularly from your bank, you should contact the company or bank directly using contact details that you’ve gathered from another reliable source before you engage further.
- Check your financial accounts regularly to ensure that no fraudulent activity has taken place.
- Consider taking a break from the internet for a short period of time. A “digital detox” can be good for your mental health.
- And overall, trust your gut. If something feels too good to be true, or if something about an online interaction is making you uneasy, take a step back and consider consulting with a friend, family member or support service.
For more information on more supports that are available, or if you would like to discuss your experience as a victim of cybercrime, you can contact the Crime Victims Helpline for free at 116 006.